Bad Religion – The Process Of Belief

(Epitaph 6635-2)
Newsgroups: uk.music.alternative
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 17:31:54 +0000

I bought this the other week from Reveal and I’ve only just got round to listening to it. Although I’ve liked BR for years now, after getting hooked by ‘American Jesus’, I thought I’d quite like this album and no more than that.

I was wrong. It’s *brilliant*!

Bear in mind that I’ve got other faves I want to review waiting in a queue (Bigger Lovers, Swollen Members, Neko Case) but this bugger has just leapfrogged to the front. To be quite honest, I’m only typing this now cos it makes more sense than just ringing round everyone I know and ranting down the phone.

This is a great pop album.

Yep, Bad Religion are very old school punks. Yep, there’s still fire, indignation and lightning in the lyrics but what hooked me is how insanely catchy these songs are. Most of the buggers are only around two minutes long but they batter in and out and make you want to pogo and shout along *instantly.*

The sound’s a lot glossier than previous BR and some of the stacked harmonies would be at home on an Eagles or Creedence album but overall it’s still a punchy, clear assault.

‘Supersonic’, the opener, barrels in and we have the first *chorus* at 18 seconds in! You’re singing along by the second chorus, it’s so bastard catchy. 1.45 and it’s all over… bloody hell…

I won’t review all the individual songs here cos I haven’t got time but they’re *all* catchy and they’re all about something. For me, this is as close to perfect pop as you can get: you can sing along to it, you can (slam)dance to it and it’s actually meaningful. Maybe some cynical types would baulk at BR wearing their lefty hearts on their sleeves but I love open, emotional lyrics that aren’t cowardly postmodern artschool gibberish.

My fave overall on the album (at the minute) is ‘Broken’ which has a soaring loud chorus and drops down to chugging acoustics for the verses which are *ace.* It’s slow, for this album, which means it’s fast for most modern rock.

‘Kyoto Now!’ has a more obvious political target and it’s a great anthem in that it’s fucking catchy and in singing along you have to work out what the hell they’re on about. And hey, it’s good to know there’s at least a few other over-30-year-olds out there who give a fuck about more than just a glittering pop career. (Check out : http://www.badreligion.com/researchfund/ to see what I mean in more detail.)

This album has everything that I think modern hardcore punk lacks: melody, variation and, most important, intelligibility. What use is railing against the evils of the world if only the hundred kids who’ve read your lyric sheet can understand what you’re singing/grunting? To change the world you actually have to communicate rather than retreat into a "pure" ghetto.

I’m sure this BR album will get slagged-off for being too poppy, too preachy or whatever. Behind all that shite is an elitist punk twattiness that would similarly have dismissed SLF or the Dead Kennedys given a chance. Those are the two bands that most leap to my mind listening to this. Only a very few punk bands have ever fused pop and ideas so well, creating classics like ‘Suspect Device’ or ‘ California Uber Alles.’ Bad Religion have done that difficult trick here.

I love ‘You Don’t Belong’ (near the end of the album) cos it’s so obviously written from the point of view of old punk geezers. It’s self-mocking and at the same time it connects with old geezers like me with its list of ‘what happened to…?’ A kind of Geeks Reunited. Yeah, it’s soppy and yeah, I love that. I only wish there was more actual emotion in music these days rather than marketing demographics and listless, rhyming-dictionary balladeering.

This is an adventurous, hugely energetic album. It sounds like a band who know what they want to do and aren’t afraid of breaking rules, even, horror of horrors, punk rules.

If you’ve ever loved punkpop like the Buzzcocks, Ramones or SLF or just love intensely catchy rock music, please at least give this album a listen. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t find yourself humming along. It’s like a breath of cool, clean air in a horribly smoggy and flatulent post-rock/prog/jazz desert.

Buy this album if you believe in love, liberty and revolution.

Don’t buy this album if you found the last sentence corny and embarrassing.
love and kisses,
Jyoti